Border Championship still up for grabs

Border Championship still up for grabs going into final Round at Donegal "To finish first - first you've got to finish," is a well used adage in motorsport. For the leading contenders in the Four Seasons Hotel Border Rally Championship these ...

Border Championship still up for grabs going into final Round at Donegal

"To finish first - first you've got to finish," is a well used adage in motorsport. For the leading contenders in the Four Seasons Hotel Border Rally Championship these words are ringing in their collective ears as, remarkably, all the main players failed to make it to the finish ramp at the Sligo Rally, thereby, ensuring that the much coveted Derryveagh Crystal Perpetual Trophy will not have a new name engraved on it until after the final round in Donegal.

There is no doubt that the Sligo Stages were one of the toughest rallies of the year for both man and machine. Hosts, Connaught Motor Club, put up a seriously challenging route in the North Sligo/West Leitrim region for the 8 Special Stage test. Such was the high level of attrition that just over 90 cars completed the days action from 151 starters.

As per the past number of seasons in the 'Clubman's Championship', the title chase goes 'right down to the wire'. All will be decided at the Donegal Harvest Rally on Saturday October 14th. The early autumn sabbatical will provide ample time for the leading contenders to lick their wounds (after Sligo) and give us observers an opportunity to cast an eye on the intriguing permutations, which have emerged.

Border Championship Registrar, John Duffy, outlines his analysis on the potential outcome. "Assuming that the pre-Sligo leaders Paul Gallagher and Karl Reid have a better run in Donegal and win their Class (10) and get the full compliment of 10 championship points on offer, then the Letterkenny men will be crowned the 2000 Four Seasons Hotel Border Rally Champions. Providing that there are at least five starters in this Class, the Toyota Corolla crew can reach a potential of 39 points after taking the four best scores from 6 rounds into consideration".

"The Gallagher /Reid partnership could be equalled on points by both David Armstrong/Herbie Blackburn (Escort Cosworth), last years Champions and Mac McKenna/ John Loughran (Peugeot 205). The Newry and Monaghan crews must win their respective Classes 13 & 11A and gain the full 10 championship points to create this scenario. However, Paul and Karl would still win the title on a tie-break. According to the regulations, the tie-break is decided on the next highest or 5th score and as the first tie-break score for Paul and Karl would be 9 points as against Armstrong and Blackburn's/McKenna and Loughran's one point recorded from their DNF's at the Sligo Rally.

If you look into it further, David/Herbie and Mac/John are the only crews that can over take Gallagher and Reid. For this to happen, both crews would have to win their respective Class, take the maximum 10 points and collectively pray that Paul and Karl finish 2nd in Class or lower," said John. Gallagher and Reid must still be ruing what might have been at the Sligo Rally and only for a broken driveshaft things could be oh so different. Their non-finish has opened up the Championship once more and ensures an exciting climax to the six round series at the Donegal Harvest Rally.

Four other drivers are anxiously waiting in the wings should the leading contenders let the Derryveagh Crystal slip from their grasp. Newry's Tom McCreesh, Norman Armstrong and also Mayoman James McGreal can each score a potential 38 points (subject to a Class win). It's possible that either one of these drivers could win the Championship but that depends of course on Paul Gallagher having a very low points score in Donegal.

"Taking all into consideration, these are the only crews that can win the 2000 Four Seasons Hotel Border Rally Championship, but if the Sligo Stages Rally is anything to go by, it's impossible to predict a winner. Of course, there are 15 Class awards up for grabs which must be decided on too," added John.

Although, the new Border Champions will be known after the Donegal Harvest Rally, the Championship proper will not come to a final conclusion until the Awards Presentation Dinner on Friday night November 10th at the Four Seasons Hotel & Leisure Centre, Coolshannagh, Monaghan.

<pre> Provisional Class Leaders after Round 4 - Sligo

Class / Driver / Address / Points / Navigator / Points

1.. D. McBride (Convoy) 27 Points / J. Gallagher 27 p oints 2.. S. Darcy (Bruckless) 18 Points / T. Bustard 18 P oints 3.. R. Kennedy (Nuttscorner) 23 Points / P. Docherty 23 P R. Shawoints 23 P oints

4.. J. Cairns (Strabane) 27 Points / J. Cairns 27 P 5.. P. Clearyoints (Kiltimagh) 21 Points / B. Cleary 14 p 6.. S. Gallagher oints (Letterkenny) 27 Points / A. Gould 18 P / C. Curley 18 P oints

7.. A. White (Dromiskin) 32 Points . B. Sharkey 32 Points 8.. P. Harris (Convoy) 20 Points / E. O'Donnell 20 Points 9.. T. McCreesh (Newry) 29 Points / S. Gallagher 23 Points 10.. P. Gallagher (Letterkenny) 38 Points / K. Reid 38 points 11.. G. Smyth (Castleblaney) 28 Points / D. McArdle 25 Points 12.. M. McArdle (Castleblaney) 33 Points / G. McMonagle 33 Points A. Nesbitt (Armagh) 33 Points /

13.. D. Armstrong (Newry) 27 Points / H. Blackburn 27 Points 11A N. Amrstrong (Newry) 36 Points / C. Kelly 36 Points

14B. J. McGreal (Foxford) 34 Points / J. Egan 28 Points

Team: Mayo Japs - J. McGreal/K. Duffy, P. Cleary/B. Cleary, J. Duffy/J. Egan 100 Points.

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